Following industry's criticism of proposals to scrap the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) for lorries which use ferry services to move goods between the Western Isles of Scotland and the mainland, Scottish Government has agreed to extend fare savings to commercial vehicles of six metres. But, FTA asks, why not lorries?
The RET sets ferry fares to the equivalent cost for vehicles travelling the same distance by road and in 2008 a pilot scheme was introduced for the Western Isles, Coll and Tiree. But from April lorries will not be included in the scheme, which will continue for cars, coaches and small commercial vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, and, as of today's announcement, commercial vehicles up to six metres.
Christopher MacRae, FTA's Head of Policy in Scotland, said: "By extending the limit by one metre, Scottish Government are effectively saying we don't want to penalise road freight operators of large vans who keep our island communities thriving. So what have they got against lorries? Obviously, they take up more room than vans on the ferry, but what are we saying to lorry operators, that they should use two vans instead of one lorry - where is the economic, environmental or commercial sense in that?
"While Scottish Government's move is welcome news to some commercial vehicle operators, it still doesn't go far enough. Lorries are not going to disappear, but any profit margin that their operators hope to make in delivering goods and services to and from these islands certainly will if the RET is scrapped for lorries. This will force them to increase costs and could add inflationary pressure on these delicate island economies."